The 2017 F1 Season is Upon Us!! Here’s What You Need to Know…

Hey Racing Fans,

There is much to look forward to in the upcoming F1 season—with many new rule changes concerning the construction of the vehicles themselves.

Especially being the vehicles will be both higher-performance (expecting 3-5 second faster laps than ever before) and will be placing more strain on the drivers due to the increase in downforce and grip.

There are also two rule changes for the races themselves: wet starts will now take place from a standing position on the grid, and drivers are allowed one “special event” helmet livery. The actual rule changes don’t really affect much except that there will be more crashes at Turn 1 on wet days, and sometimes one or two drivers may change colour.

Now to go over the specifics of the car regulation changes, F1 and Pirelli have put together a video explaining the tyre size increases and what it means for the laps and the drivers.

Basically, wider tyres have a greater contact patch, and with much more rubber in contact with the road, the car can take corners much faster than with the thinner ones of yesteryear. It also adds to the physical difficulty of controlling the car around corners.

As for aerodynamics, here’s a few pictures that sum up the changes, and that all add up to there being more downforce and thus more grip. This causes the drivers to experience even more lateral Gs every turn which, over 40-60 laps, could separate the men from the boys this year.

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Engine-wise, the changes are mostly in the supply of power units happening off the course, and the cost per customer teams for said power units ($1 million Euros/unit cheaper than last year). There will also be a constraint on the boost pressure and FIA officials have abolished the “token” system for mid-season engine development.

Brushing over the specifics of the complicated system of tokens assigned to parts of the power units and the spending of “tokens” in order to develop specific engine parts, the difference between seasons is that in 2016, there was a reason Mercedes ran away in the straights—Ferrari, Renault, and Honda were not allowed to spend on engine development due to token restrictions. Now in 2017, there are no such restraints.

This will lead to one of two potential outcomes:

  1. With freedom to develop and their own bottom-lines to consider, the power unit suppliers will come to level out in terms of straight-line performance allowing the fans more excitement as the competition will be more intense between the drivers.
  2. With freedom to develop and the wondrous corporate imbalances of capitalism, Mercedes may just convert their financial supremacy into development supremacy and we’ll see an unrestricted runaway from them this season.

However, I believe that even if it is a happy medium between the two, we still have an exciting season ahead of us unlike any we have seen before.

Until next time, enjoy the show 🙂

-MatInTheHat

 

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